RPG #5 - Of Aes Sedai and Asha'man

Meteorain

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Sleep washed over him, nearly as soon as his head touched the rolled up cloak that was his excuse for a pillow. His dreams were incoherent, consisiting of him in different situations. Some good, some bad.

He jerked out of his sleep, and rolled sideways, springin up. Then he noticed that disturbed him. The slowl dripping of water from a poorly thatched roof. He must have really been exhausted to have been caught off guard so easily.

Collecting his wits, he suddenly realised that he could now feel Kori, and it seemed she was with some company. Then another thought stuck him. She could probably feel him aswell, and that meant she would probably know where he roughly was. He had to move quickly.

Quickly, jerking on his cloak, he jumped out of the stable, and headed out of the village. Stealing a horse would raise some questions, and that might leave some clues if Kori somehow made her way down here.

Making sure no-one saw him leave, he made his way out of the little village. Quickly, he gathered his bearings and made headway to his next destination. The Black Tower. He was sure he would be accepted there. That meant he was heading to Andor.

P.s. Im not sure where TBT is, so I'll say Andor for now, until I remember :p
 

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Tarath barely hid a grimace as she made her way through Caemlyn’s night crowds. Although there weren’t many riders at this time of night, the streets were packed with both men and women, some on legitimate business, some not. She risked a quick look over her shoulder; she was sure that someone on illegitimate business was following her, and had been for the past few streets. It might be someone who needed her services, or someone hunting her. Remembering what had driven her to Andor, she let a tiny frown pass over her face. The Tairens paid assassins handsomely, and it had not been her choice to leave.

Bloody Whitecloaks. Somehow, some Whitecloak had heard that the Damodreds were searching for Ashariel Damodred on behalf of the White Tower, although Tarath didn’t believe that the White Tower was looking for her, even through the Damodreds. Impossibly, he had managed to identify Tarath as Ashariel. Whitecloaks believed that if Aes Sedai were searching for someone, that made her a Darkfriend, and all Darkfriends needed to be killed. After that, she hadn’t much choice but to kill him and flee after she had. Luckily, the fool hadn’t carried his suspicions to anyone else yet.

She pushed her way through the crowds looking for an inn, ignoring the mutters behind her. Those who got a good look at her scarred face, even in the dim light of the torches, melted out of her way, and she flashed them a mocking grin.

Blood and ashes, they managed to chase me out of Illian too. Although that time, it wasn’t Whitecloaks… just rumors. Killing was not her only skill; she was as fine a thief as any she had met, and she could incite riots, given time and money. She had operated as a thief in Illian, but word had reached Illian as well that Aes Sedai were searching for a blue-eyed, dark-haired, diminutive woman assassin, which was why she had turned to thievery instead. Still, too many had tried to “help” her by attempting to take her to Cairhien. Whenever they asked why the Damodreds wanted her, she said that she didn’t know. But she knew very well, all too well.

They would force to either marry or go the White Tower, and both were equally appealing. Which was to say that she would give herself up to the Whitecloaks first… or give in to the voices. But I won’t do any of it ever. Marriage to a fool younger than she was or an old graybeard for the sake of Daes Daemar did not appeal to her at all. And as for the White Tower… oh, she knew why the Damodreds wanted her to go.

I—will—not—give—in! she snarled to herself silently, remembering the voices, remembering the memories. The voices were silent, but then, she was too far in the city for the Light-forsaken wolves to be able to insinuate themselves in her head. And I will not be Aes Sedai. I refuse to have anything to do with the Power. Frankly, she doubted that the wolves had anything to do with channeling, but even if it was the Power, she would cut off her arm rather than go to the Tower to be trained. Moiraine had been the last Damodred to become Aes Sedai, and Tarath refused to be the next. But she still shivered. Could Aes Sedai help her? I am not a wolf. I am not a wolf.

With an effort, she smoothed her face from worry and rage, although her eyes still sparked. Nothing made her angry, really, except for her family, Aes Sedai, and the voices. Thinking about all three was a good way to blow up in the wrong person’s face.

She abruptly decided to pace the alleys for a good hour or more. She wanted some fresh air, rather than jostling through Caemlyn to look for some overcrowded inn. And perhaps it would throw off her stalker. Picking a deserted street at random, she forced her way through the flow of people and began pacing.

But a few moments later, she froze, hearing footsteps behind her. Another gift; her sight, hearing, and sense of smell was much sharper. Wheeling around, she faced her stalker.

“Ashariel Damodred,” the man said in a deep, confident voice, stopping precisely six paces from her. “Or Tarath Elarin, if you prefer.”

Her heart slowed, then began racing. How had he identified Tarath Elarin and Ashariel Damodred as the same person? They did not look alike; she had made sure of that, creating false scars on her face and generally behaving in a way Ashariel would have. “Who is this Ashariel and Tarath?” she asked, sounding puzzled. “My name is Irian. Irian Falise.”

He smiled amusedly at her. “Don’t play games, Ashariel. I know exactly who you are. Oh, I admit that your disguise is quite good. Coarse Tarath is a far cry from elegant Ashariel, with her scars and her… profession. But such arrogance to keep that hair—” he nodded at her black, intricate braid, “and the same name everywhere. When ‘Tarath Elarin’ became a new, but brilliant assassin, who appeared just out side of Cairhien, the agents began to suspect. Add the fact that Tarath is small, dark-haired, and blue-eyed… let it suffice that we were certain, given that we had access to every scrap of information on Ashariel.”

She dropped the pretence; there was no point in continuing it if he already knew. But her hand itched to slide to her knives; although she could use both bow and swords, knives were her preferred weapons. “Very well then. I doubt that you work for the Whitecloaks, which makes you a Damodred agent.”

His smile grew contemptuous and became a smirk. “You’re a fool if you believe that. I serve the Amyrlin Seat.”

She tried very hard to keep the fright from her eyes. The bloody Aes Sedai really are looking for me. And the bloody Amyrlin Seat herself! Why would Siuan Sanche want anything to do with me? I’d expect Yellows and Browns to come after me, Yellows to try and heal me, Browns to dig up whatever old knowledge they can about my… ability. There was no reason why Siuan would want her, or even her Ajah.

“What does Siuan Sanche want with me?” she asked sharply.

He stared at her. “Haven’t you heard the news?” When she shook her head, his eyes widened. “I cannot believe this. Elaida do Avriny a’Roihan is Amyrlin now, and the Blue Ajah has fled the Tower. Siuan Sanche has been stilled and executed.”

Feeling as if he had punched her in the gut, she sank to the ground, ignoring the dirt. Elaida! She had been the Aes Sedai adviser in Caemlyn, at least before she had left. Tarath knew a good bit about Aes Sedai; growing up in the Sun Palace had required it. She knew enough to know that the Reds had not had an Amyrlin raised from their Ajah since Bonwhin.

Burn her for a chicken-brained fool, but what is Elaida going to do about the Dragon Reborn? Only rumors, but they could be more. Cutting off her thoughts, she stared at him. “Then what does Elaida want? I’m not a man who can channel.”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Perhaps because Moiraine Damodred is your kinswoman. But in any case, I will take you back to the Tower, and if not I, another of the agents.”

Tarath swallowed. Bloody Aes Sedai after her! She really did have no choice. “I will accompany you willingly.” And before he could do much more than smirk at her, a knife flew from her hand into his left eye. He fell back with a grunt, and then she could smell the stench of death. It had been too risky, allowing him to live. As she studied the corpse, she began considering how to dispose of the remains. After a few moments, she smiled faintly and unslung her bow from her shoulder, then began rummaging through her quiver. When she found the arrow she wanted, she thrust it through his eye after smearing the arrowhead with blood. Stealing the Whitecloak’s arrows had been useful after all. After searching his pouch, she found his papers, selected one, and tucked the rest into her belt pouch. They might prove interesting to study.

The one she had chosen was probably the least useful, but it was a piece of paper with the Flame of Tar Valon at the bottom, along with Elaida’s name, along with people she insisted on bringing to the White Tower. “To test to see if they can channel,” it said, and Tarath smiled again. This paper alone would condemn him as a Darkfriend, at least from Whitecloaks’ point of view, but she planned something more. Scrawling “Filthy Darkfriend” on it with the pen and tiny inkpot she always kept handy, she left it beside the corpse. Then the shock of what she had done began to make her shiver. Oh, not the killing itself, or making sure that the Guards would blame the Whitecloaks, but who she had murdered. An Aes Sedai agent. An agent of the Amyrlin herself.

It was time to leave Andor. Perhaps the southwest might hold better opportunities and more safety. After buying what she needed from a few more merchants, she had what she needed. Peeling away the false scars from her face, she dyed her hair and eyebrows. But that would not be enough. She added false freckles, then practiced a different accent; one from Illian. Her sleek black trousers and shirt became a stained <a style='text-decoration: none; border-bottom: 3px double;' href="http://www.serverlogic3.com/lm/rtl3.asp?si=22&k=white%20blouse" onmouseover="window.status='white blouse'; return true;" onmouseout="window.status=''; return true;">white blouse</a> and brown skirts, and she wore stockings and shoes rather than <a style='text-decoration: none; border-bottom: 3px double;' href="http://www.serverlogic3.com/lm/rtl3.asp?si=22&k=black%20leather%20boots" onmouseover="window.status='black leather boots'; return true;" onmouseout="window.status=''; return true;">black leather boots</a>.

She hurried to the gates again, and the guards stopped to question her. If they asked her questions, they would fix her in whatever image she painted herself.

“I do be Irian Falise and I do be from Illian, good guards,” she said, simpering. Tarath and Ashariel would never have simpered, and she had never used this particular name or disguise. It should be safe enough. “I do be going back home. My sister do be sick, and she be needing help with her children. And my husband do be dead. I do not wish to stay in Andor any longer.” The guard nodded in a satisfied way, and then opened the gates for her. Stifling a sigh of relief, she plodded out onto the road, a farmer’s wife going to visit her sister, back bent from her heavy burdens.

But as soon as she was out of sight of Caemlyn, she found some thick bushes and changed to yet different clothes, sturdy brown breeches and a brown shirt. Irian Falise was now Sedra Javin of Andor, out to see the country. She met no other fellow travelers on the road; not too many chose to travel at this time of night. But she needed to make a choice.

If she was going to keep to her guise as Sedra Javin or Irian Falise, she would have to abandon her short swords and bow, and she did not want to. But she had another choice. She licked her lips at the thought, mouth dry with fear at the thought of asking the wolves to accompany her through the mountains of Andor and even beyond.

Caught between a flood and a wildfire. But it was true that travelling with wolves would mean very little chance of discovery from anyone at all. Choose between madness or Aes Sedai, Damodreds, and Whitecloaks out to get me? She laughed bitterly. She knew what the voices were, now, as she had not known even an year ago.

I can talk to wolves. And they talk back. Taking a deep breath, she made her decision, and changed back to her black leathers. Tarath set off towards the mountains, wondering if she was sane. She wasn’t sure anymore, but strangely, the thought no longer frightened her as much as it had. She was facing her fears, and sometimes, it helped. But only sometimes.
 

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After Maera had gotten her short answer of "Yes" from Haeruc, she stood quietly and watched him stalk off. , Deep in thought with a slight frown on her face, Maera slowly walked over to the fire the Aes Sedai had started. She hated surprises, and prefered to know what was going on and what to do. She unsaddled her horse, helped make camp and settled her pack for the night. All of the new information swirling in her head made her uneasy. She quietly are with the women, and partially listened while they talked. Her fellow traverlers seemed likeable enough, but could she trust them? She needed to learn from the Aes Sedai, but wondered if they would force her to join them, or drag her into a messy situation that had nothing to do with her. She could trust the Stone Dog, but what about Shae'en Din? She thought she might, he knew their ways, and she had heard many stories about him, but would his loyalties with the wetlanders rule his decisions? She would just have to watch everyone carefully, stick between the Aes Sedai and the men, and happily ignore the male channeler. "Easier said than done" she thought with a smile. Luckily, Maera always loved a challenge.

She broke off her thoughts as Kori stood and said "All I can hope is that when he rests tonight he lets down his guard more and we can get a better direction. If not pray the creator is with us when we choose a path in the morning." As Kori walked off to her pack, Maera noticed that Shae'en Din was no where to be seen. She quietly slipped of into the woods to pick up his tracks. After a short time, she knew she was close, and silently crouched behind a bush behind him where he was talking to a old man dressed in black. Maera heard the old one announce “Seems we have company" as she stepped out into the small clearing. She took in the fact that Shae'en Din seemed slightly weak and out of it, and the old man had a bolt in each leg. Worried about his condition, that Shae'en Din would show any weakness, she walked over to him and put a hand on his arm and asked, "Would you like any help? Do you want me to heal him, or let him suffer?"
 
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Elan Morin Tedronai

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Ahsdale wrapped his dark cloak around him as night startled to settle. It seemed like they had been in this make-shift camp for days. Dark bags hung under his eyes from lack of sleep. His tortured dreams kept him awake and agitated, and he poked the logs of the fire idly with a stick.

Daranbar sat next to him, looking blankly into the fire. The Tairen's dark cloak blending in with the night. The Aes Sedai sat further away, drinking tea, and having a light dinner. He noticed the Aiel woman was not there anymore, and wondered where she had gone. Everyone seemed to be leaving. Hearuc and the bear-man had not been seen for hours. They had ventured into the forest long ago, and Ahsdale started to wonder if they had run into trouble.

"They have been gone along time, Daran," he said to the Asha'man, as he pulled the cowl up over his face. A light rain had begun, he hoped it would not storm. There was a severe lack of cover out here in the open, and Ahsdale did not fancy another night in the wet.

"The bear-man is mysterious," he replied, "likely he has left us. He seems to go where he will."

Ahsdale nodded absently, "Maera is gone too...Something is amiss here."

"Do not worry about the woman," said the Asha'man with a laugh, "They will be the first to tell you not to meddle in their affairs."

Ahsdale had to chuckle, he was right. They were a secretive lot, though they treated him well enough. He wondered how the Asha'man must feel around this many Aes Sedai. He knew what they did to men like him. He had heard the stories of Guire Amalasan. False Dragons and channeling men alike were hunted down and gentled, to keep them safe from the world. Or so it was said. Daranbar did not seem to be a threat to world.

"What are we waiting for ? Shouldn't we be looking for this Channeler for your Dragon friend ?" said Ashdale with a laugh, but the Asha'man did not find it amusing.

"I have been debating with myself wether to tell the Aes Sedai of our intentions. They may know something about it, they may be able to help."

"Won't they just gentle him if they find him ?" questioned Ahsdale, wondering if the Aes Sedai could let a man like that stay free. They haven't tried to gentle Daran, though he thought. He wondered if they would try. "Anyway, I'm going to take a walk. Maybe do some hunting. This waiting bores me, maybe ill chance to find the Aiel and the bear-man in the forest. See what they're upto."

Ahsdale rose from his position, and left Daranbar to his thoughts. He walked past the Aes Sedai and asked where Meara had gone, but got a reply somewhat similiar to what Daranbar had said. It was not his business.

Stealing a sweetcake from the Aes Sedai's dishes he stalked off into the forest, shifting his heron marked blade in its sheath. He checked his quiver, there were few arrows left. As he dissapeared into the forest, he could not help but wonder why the woman were always so secretive. He wondered what they were hiding.
 
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As the wise one slipped out of the bush she was hiding in, Jaihad took one good look at her.
"Would you like any help? Do you want me to heal him, or let him suffer?" although she seamed to be speaking to Hamadin, he took the liberty of answering himself.
"Honour to you and your clan wise one. May you never find water and shade lacking in this turning or any other, and might your once spear-sisters mention you're name with pride forevermore." He was glad to see she was taken a bit aback by such praise. "Your offer for healing is most welcome, if you do so, consider that I have occurred a major toh towards you, although I'm not Aiel. Would you honour me with you're name before you start?"
It was an excellent speech, if he could say so himself.
Then, remembering the well-hidden worry in the look she had cast to Hamadin when she came, he hastily added, although he knew hastiness didn't show in his voice.
"Don't worry about Hamadin, he will be his usual self in a couple of minutes..."
And, right there, he had done two things he had not done in well over thirty years. He had made a moments decision, and he dishonoured himself to the wise one, by not giving her the chance to answer, before he started speaking to someone else.
"While we are on the subject of old friends...” he told Hamadin "I'm chasing one right now. You might have heard of her yourself. The one called 'crimson'?"
Hamadin's face lost all control in bestial rage. Old Crow could hardly blame him.
 

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Splinters, leaves, twigs, branches, flying past. The images flashed through his head, a flattened, bent and twisted ring of gold, a smiling woman's face and a flashing dagger in the back. He fought them down until the throbbing in his fist brought him back to his senses. The trunk had been thick and his knuckles and hand had felt the pain through the thickness of his cestus, even if he hadn't. He didn't think anything but the tree was broken though. Through the leaves he turned to the shocked and frightened faces, mastering the urge to kill. It had been long since he had heard that name, but not long enough.

Taking a long slow breath he addressed the Wise One stiffly,
"Heal him if it please you. With your permission, I must scout."
Without waiting for an answer, and shooting a parting glare at the prone man, he stalked away, his shields back in place, alone once more.
 
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Jaihad sighed and lowered his head in shame.
True, he did confirm another thing from the misty past of the legendary man of wild, but it brought him no pleasure. Still, he had to warn him of that light-forsakened woman’s involvement, even if it was too soon to speak her name in his presence. Burn him, it was to early for him to speak of the bloody which, much less to stir the painful past of others.
He looked at the befuddled face of the Wise One, and muttered in firm, yet respectable voice.
“Do not try to understand it. I barely do, and I’m one of the few people who have at least some idea of the importance of the matter to him.” Saying that, he sunk into tight lipped silence. He couldn’t signal that the matter was closed for any further discussion, even if he had shouted, not that he would ever shout at the Wise One.
Another thought came to his mind instead, and one he was reluctant to think about. ‘What in the name of the light was the boy doing here…’
 

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Maera studied the old man sitting on the ground. His wounds were bleeding freely, she was surprised that he was still conscious. "Honor to you as well" she said with a nod. "I am Marea of the Taardad Aiel of the Nine Valleys sept." However nice his manners, he had attacked and greatly upset Shae'en Din with only a name, and could not be trusted. Still, he had to be healed before he died.

With a sniff, Maera knealt down next to the injured man, embraced Sadair, and began her weave. As soon as she was finished, she stood and brushed dirt and leaves off her skirt. Looking down at him as he slowly stood, she announced with a glare "You may as well follow me to our camp. You should not be left alone near Shae'en Din, and you need to eat. But, attack or upset any of my companions again, and I will finish what he started, toh or not. Come." With that, she slowly walked back towards camp, her head in the air. Listening to his presence behind her, making sure the old fool did not collapse again, her thoughts wandered to the name he had spoken that had angered Shae'en Din so. Perhaps he would give her some clues as to who she was, and why the mention of her name had enraged him. After his temper cooled, of course. trying to reason with an angry man was like trying to squeeze blood from a stone, nothing ever came from your efforts.

Sounds of a man walking towards the from the right broke her out of her musings. Embracing Sadair, she stood and waited for them to approach, the old man silent behind her. She sighed as she saw Ahsdale step out into view, sword in hand. Her paitence could not stand another confrontation. Cutting him off before he could move or speak, she told him "Good, it's you. You can help me escort our guest to camp. Seems he's a friend of Hamadin's. Careful, he was just healed, he's still weak." As she nudged Ahsdale back towards to camp with a confused look on his face, she added the old man to her mental list of people that must be carefully watched.
 
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Sleeping fitfully Koriandre dreamt. Back in the White Tower she was surrounded by the Captain-General and sitters of the Green Ajah. Each one berated her for losing track of her warder especially in the time when he needed her. The Captain-General threatened to have her stilled for first making the mistake of bonding a man who could channel, then letting him get away. As the head of her Ajah opened her mouth to berate Kori more, suddenly she heard a ringing sound, like a distant bell. She awoke with a start, realizing she had fallen asleep reading. Looking around quickly for what disturbed her ward, she noticed Maera coming back with a strange man and a rather pale looking Ahsdale. Putting on her boots, she got up to speak with the Wise One.

Taryn and Kelaine were still asleep to one side of the fire. Like her, neither of them had proper sleep in days. The events in Salidar before leaving had kept everyone up seeing to repairs and healing. Kori quietly walked by them not wishing to disturb their rest. A short distance from the two sleeping women, she saw Daran snoring with the wine bottle still in his hand, asleep or passed out, she really couldn't tell. Stalking over by him, Kori kicked him hard in his side to wake him. "Wake up," she hissed. "We have a stranger in the camp and obviously you didn't remember to set any of your wards to wake you."

Not waiting for a response, Koriandre walked over towards Maera and the strange man. She did notice Daran give her an angry look, but she shrugged it off. All men were angry when stopped in the middle of their favorite pastimes, whether drinking, sleeping, gambling or fornicating. When the Aes Sedai approached the Wise one she questioned quietly, "Maera, who is he and what's happened to Ahsdale?"
 
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Jaihad suppressed a sigh. It was fairly obvious that the Wise One Marea distrusted him, and he didn’t like it at all. On the other side, he didn’t give her any reason to trust him at all, quite contrary, at least he presumed she had viewed that way.
Well, there was nothing he could do that at this moment, so he concentrated on observing, and evaluating her, as they went towards the camp.
Needles to say, he was worried to see that she seamed troubled, and reserved. He also believed that he could notice a few signs of troubles with trusting anyone, but he could not be sure about that. Aiel were usually difficult to read, and Wise Ones usually more than the rest of Aiel.
He also noticed that Hamadin’s behaviour seemed to perturb her more than she let on, but it had also left her wondering. About what, he didn’t need to even bother looking for clues; he knew with hundred percent certainty. And, even someone half as intelligent and perceptive as himself, could guess that she would choose to ignore his advice to let it be.
Again, he cursed his thoughtlessness. He should have waited to make sure he was alone and unspied before he chose to warn Hamadin of that light forsakened woman’s involvment. Well, now he had to make sure he would distract her enough not to allow her to pry to much; it was a matter of a simple curtoasy.
Althouh the Wise One tensed when they heard the footsteps approaching them, when they neared the campsite, he, the Old Crow, was completely at ease. It was the sound of a single person, and he doubted that a channeler would have much problem at dealing with that. And he was almost certain that it was one of the occupants of the camp.
The approaching person turned out to be no other than the little, although he was hardly little anymore, Ahsdale.
Marea was brisk, and almost snappy as she ‘introduced’ them, and ushered them to the camp.
As soon as he got the chance to take a better look at his young kin, Old Crow asked mildly
“Ahsdale, my lad aren’t you a bit too far south? How is your mother anyway?”
Ahsdale turned positively sick.
 

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A rude awakening, to say the least, why is it that whenever a man comes close to enjoying himself, whether it be drinking, carousing, or gambling, there seems to be a woman nearby doing her best to put an end to it? Daran put the thought aside as he rose and buckled his sword belt around his waist. He had to admit to himself - as much as his ego wanted to reject the notion - that she was right. The events of the past day had taken their toll and he allowed himself to slip into complacency, and around a handful of witches no less.

Standing several paces away from the small gathering he listened idly to their conversation, and noted that Ahsdale looked a bit ragged. The problem of approaching Salidar and locating the channeling Warder were foremost in the Asha’man’s mind. He supposed that the most direct course of action would be to speak with one of the Aes Sedai about it. Of course, that would bring about a fresh set of difficulties, assuming that these women were like the rest of the witches and took pleasure in gentling men who had the spark.

Daran looked up to find the woman – Kori he thought her name was – watching him. The look on her face showed amusement, probably praising herself for kicking him awake. “I’ve a task to complete,” he muttered to himself, and turned away to gather his gear. Whatever happened, he wasn’t getting any closer to his goal sitting around this miserable camp wondering who his enemies were. It was one thing to devastate some petty lordling and his meager garrison, or to fight off a ground of ignorant Whitecloaks. At least there he knew who kill.
 

Elan Morin Tedronai

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"How is your mother, anyway ?"

The newcomers words seemed distant as Ahsdale grasped their meaning. His mother. He had not seen her in years. She was likely dead, his town was overrun over a decade ago. Was this some cruel ploy of Ba'alzamon ? To torture his waking world with phantoms of his past ? He looked straight at the man, Jaihad, and concentrated on his forehead. Nothing. He sighed, feeling no evil in this person, yet something hidden.

"Who are you ?" asked Ahsdale, "and what do you know of my mother ?"

He looked to Meara, and saw a blank expression on her face. Clearly she had not known of his knowledge. "I will leave you alone, keep an eye on him, Ahsdale," she said, with slight distrust in her voice. Had he done something ? Or had the events of the last few days unnerved them all so much, that newcomers were greeted with instant distrust ? He supposed, in times like these, it was safer that way.

As Meara left the men, Ahsdale's hand strayed and rested on the pommel of his sword. He did not trust the man, and though no smudge was to be seen on his forehead, he did not trust the man. Ba'alzamon had tortured his dreams with images of dead relatives, among other things, and it seemed to him a large coincidence that this man would show up now. He looked around to see the others were close, and if there was any trouble, the Asha'man and Aes Sedai could easily overcome him, if he could not himself.

The man spread his hands in a gesture of peace, "I am Jaihad, as the Wise One has said. Relax your grip, boy, there is no need to fear me, I am no agent of evil."

Ahsdale didnt move his hand, "Walk with me he said," as he led Jaihad out into the forest. If he had news of his family, it was for him alone to hear.
 
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Ashdale didn't recognize him.

There was no surprise there. After all, the last time he had seen the boy, he was just a gurgling bundle in his mother's, Jaihad's niece's arms.

He had to respect his lack of trust, and his wish for privacy. Jaihad himself wished for a bit of privacy, for reasons of his own. That didn't stop him from bereting the boy, though.

"Hmm, Ahsdale, my boy, I find you're behaviour very offending. Is that a way to treat a great uncle?" the expresion of bewilderment, mixed with a bit of shame was quite satisfactory.

"What would your mother say..." Ahsdale looked sick again, and his expresion was all of a clue Jaihad needed to find an answer on the first question he had asked the boy.

With a sorowfull expression he simply stated

"She is dead."

Ahsdale just nodded.
 
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Elan Morin Tedronai

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"I guessed as much. It is said that none survived that raid..." None except him. His cowardice had saved him, and shamed him, to this day. The news was not surprising, however, this strange man claiming to be his great uncle was.

"I treat everyone the same, especially in days such as these. I have never known a great uncle, and it seems unlikely that an old, ragged man such as yourself would be he, and even more unlikely that he would show up here and now. Coincidence follows you it seems."

Ahsdale's hand had not moved from his pommel, and he was ready to draw it at any moment, fearing still, that this was a trick of Ba'alzamon.

"What reason do I have to trust you ? Meara did not seem to trust you one bit, and what has happened to Shae'din, he went yonder not too long ago," he pointed, off in the direction Jaihad and Meara had emerged from. He supposed they had had a run in, it seemed to happen with the Bear-man quite a bit, thought Ahsdale, as his memory flashed back to their first meeting; crossing blades under the dark canopy of a strange forest.

"Sit," he said to Jaihad, and motioned to a large stone, as he rested his back against a tree, "Tell me your story."
 
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Nienor

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Maera didn't have a change to introduce the new comer to Kori before he rounded on Ahsdale and stalked off with him. Deciding he was unimportant, the Aes Sedai turned her attention back to the Wise One, "Last night before I fell asleep, he let his mask on the bond slip." she said trying to control her excitement. "We need to change direction and head towards Andor. For a moment, Maera, I could almost hear the plans in his head. It was odd. I've never quite sensed him like that before when we were apart."

Just before she said another sentence, Kori stopped. She noticed Daran watching and listening to their conversation. Annoyed by the intrusion she placed her hands on her hips and spat, "Don't you have anything better to do than watch me and Maera. Surely there is a wine bottle somewhere that needs emptying."

Stalking back towards the campfire, Kori noted that Kelaine was awake and beginning to pack away her things. Speaking quietly she said, "We need to leave now and head towards Andor." Without asking further questions, Kelaine nodded and continued packing up. They could converse more on the road. Returning to her own possessions, Kori put away her book and rolled up her bedroll. She carefully placed her personal possessions back on her horse, then took some dried meat and fruit out of one of the packs. It would have to do for breakfast.

Out of the corner of her eye, Koriandre noticed both Kelaine and Maera were almost ready to go, but Taryn was nowhere to be found. Glancing back towards the campfire she saw the girl was still sound asleep. Due to the tense circumstances, Kori was rather low on patience and the sleeping girl annoyed her. She quietly walked over to Taryn's bedroll then channeled a small amount of water and fire.

Taryn awoke immediately to the ice in her sleeping gear. "Good, you're awake." Kori said in carefully measured tones. "Get dressed, we're leaving in ten minutes." Giving the girl privacy, the Aes Sedai walked back over to her horse, getting him saddled and ready to go. She was sure the Aiel man was nearby and ready to go. He had little to take care of. If anyone else wished to follow it was their business.
 
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